What Changes When We Hit 3,525?

Dorado

Escalante-Class Member
...and remember, those three states are collectively allocated 7.5 maf...
And this is the issue that will need to be addressed. This volume of water is completely unsustainable. But we keep acting as if 7.5 maf is untouchable because of a compact made 100 years ago with faulty data? That may have been acceptable when the upper basin states were basically unpopulated, but it makes no sense now.

The condition of the lake we want to play on is a pretty low priority I realize. And how we get to a new system of divvying up the water is such a difficult prospect for all concerned! Hoping for more snow is not going to fix an over-allocated system...
 

drewsxmi

Escalante-Class Member
At 3,506 by March of 2023, will there even be marinas at mid lake or even Wahweap?

Access at Antelope might be possible, but it would have to resemble something like the temporary freight elevator on a high rise construction project.
At 3,506 they would have to pour a bit more concrete at the end of the Gustaveson Stateline Auxiliary Ramp, but they should be able to go down to 3,450 or possibly even 3,400 without major earth moving, just slapping down more concrete. The main Wahweap marina would still be viable, but the rental slips would need to be reconfigured to avoid the Wahweap Whale and to allow room on the east side of the channel.

Halls Crossing has the geography for extending the ramps, either by the current marina location, or in the cove where the ferry docks.

Bullfrog is the trouble spot, with the shallow bay ending about at the current location of the rental slips at about 3,505 feet.

Antelope Point would require major digging or some kind of crane system, but there is still plenty of water depth.
 

JFRCalifornia

Escalante-Class Member
And this is the issue that will need to be addressed. This volume of water is completely unsustainable. But we keep acting as if 7.5 maf is untouchable because of a compact made 100 years ago with faulty data? That may have been acceptable when the upper basin states were basically unpopulated, but it makes no sense now.
...and worth noting that the three big irrigation districts in CA that use most of that state's share consumed about 3.1 maf in 2020, or more than the entire allocation for every other state except Colorado! And it's guaranteed under the current arrangement, unlike Colorado's share...

So yes, a renegotiation is going to have to address those three irrigation districts specifically. In contrast, MWD in Southern California (urban uses in the LA area) doesn't really use anything close to that--about 0.8 maf in 2020...
 

svivian

Well-Known Member
To be honest, and this is probably an unpopular opinion..... but I'm almost to the point of hoping the lakes continue to drop to critical levels. Why? because that is what will be needed for action to happen and the terms of the agreement changed and updated to reflect the actual situation we are dealing with now. It feels as if the plan is just wait and see and that kind of planning drives me nuts sometimes.

This is all said from outside looking in and not knowing everything that goes on behind the scenes. Sitting on my hands can be difficult if i see a problem to be fixed...
 

scubatim

Well-Known Member
...and worth noting that the three big irrigation districts in CA that use most of that state's share consumed about 3.1 maf in 2020, or more than the entire allocation for every other state except Colorado! And it's guaranteed under the current arrangement, unlike Colorado's share...

So yes, a renegotiation is going to have to address those three irrigation districts specifically. In contrast, MWD in Southern California (urban uses in the LA area) doesn't really use anything close to that--about 0.8 maf in 2020...
And lets not forget - the 100% consumptive use of trans divide water to the Colorado front range is allowed to 0.45 maf!!
 

nzaugg

Well-Known Member
There was an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune this week where the author was saying that the Upper Basin states are not doing enough to conserve Colorado River water (article here). He states that the upper basin states simply hope that the lower basin will use less water, which they are, but that Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and New Mexico are doing very little to limit their use and conserve water and are in fact planning on adding projects to divert additional water out of the river. He cites the Utah River's Council which states that the upper basin states are using more than their fair share of water. However, the long-term average (2000-2018) use of the river in the upper basin states has been about 4.6 MAF, compared to the guarantee allotment of lower basin states at 7.5 MAF. They then state that because the river has been below the required delivery flow, the deficit should all be made up by upper basin states, which they define as a deficit of up to 2 MAF per year that the upper basin owes the lower basin.

Seems pretty pretty unfair to me if you will require every water deficit in a river system to be carried by those who use the least water, particularly when the water originates in those locations.
 

Coho975

Well-Known Member
I'm sure this is a simplistic and unpopular opinion, but I think converting allocations from volume to percentage of actual inflows is the only answer. No one is going to willingly cede anything. Prosper in good years and suffer in poor ones, each state and municipality is going to have to deal with it individually. There just is no broad sweeping answer to the problem, each user is unique, and has different options available to them.
 

JFRCalifornia

Escalante-Class Member
To be honest, and this is probably an unpopular opinion..... but I'm almost to the point of hoping the lakes continue to drop to critical levels. Why? because that is what will be needed for action to happen and the terms of the agreement changed and updated to reflect the actual situation we are dealing with now.
It's very true that the best laid plans tend to go nowhere until there is a crisis, and at that point they are usually thrown out and replaced with something else less perfect as panic encroaches.

Although a lot of people today scratch their heads at the terms and poor underlying assumptions of the 1922 Compact, not all that many of them ask the key question: why did it ever happen in the first place? And of course the answer is rooted in what svivian suggests--it took a crisis. And as is almost always the case with crisis planning, the bread comes out half-baked. Blame the Supreme Court.

In the earliest part of the 20th century, almost nothing was known about the Colorado River other than to the ranchers and miners in the area, along with the few explorers following in Powell's footsteps. So when the first comprehensive surveys of the canyons began in 1921, it was with the intention of exploiting the future use of whatever resources were there, mostly water.

At the time, California was growing off the charts. In 1920, that state had already exploded to a population of nearly 4 million, with a booming agricultural industry that depended on water. This kind of development dwarfed the other six states in the basin. Nevada, for example, had a population of 77,000. Then the crisis happened. Not a drought, or a natural disaster--it was a legal crisis. In June 1922, in a landmark case, the Supreme Court upheld the doctrine of prior appropriation. Now it was possible to establish a water right just by using the water first, and the decision allowed for that water to be transferred out of state. That had huge implications, none of them good for any state other than California. And that is why, with great haste, a Colorado water lawyer convened the seven states and hastily worked out a deal--the 1922 Compact.

It was a frustratingly incomplete document. All it did was establish an Upper and Lower Basin, and divided a theoretical 15 maf flow between those two basins. It did not establish rights for the individual states. But it did guarantee the Lower Basin the first 7.5 maf, leaving the Upper Basin with whatever was leftover. At the time, it seemed to be a reasonable deal for the Upper Basin, since flows were huge in recent years. In the 20 years prior, the flow past Lees Ferry was never less than 12 maf (and then only 3 times), and usually well above 20 maf!

So they all signed onto the deal--except Arizona, wary of neighboring California. The Upper Basin states figured they got what they could, and the truth was they got about a good a deal as they could get at the time, considering they had next to no political clout compared to California. Uninhabited Nevada got a free ride for the moment too. But Arizona complained that the 1922 Compact should have established a fixed amount for each state, not just for each basin. They refused to ratify the document because for them the question loomed--how much water would California take? Under the Compact, they could theoretically take all 7.5 maf of the Lower Basin's share.

...which led to the beginning of piecemeal fixes. The first of these was the Boulder Canyon Act of 1928, which established the relative shares of water for the Lower Basin--an effort to limit California--but that state got what it really wanted--Hoover Dam, which provided the means to send almost unlimited water and power to California, no matter what the Compact said. Who was going to stop them?

It went from there. A treaty with Mexico in 1944. A compact between the Upper Basin states in 1948. A lawsuit between Arizona and California, which Arizona finally won. A never ending series of protocols and amendments. And of course, in the middle of it all, the 1956 Colorado River Storage Project, which gave rise to Lake Powell.

And so the Law of the River as we know it today is a series of fixes of an imperfect original document created in the wake of a crisis. We can see how well all that worked out.

Now, as that arrangement is somehow updated in the near future, we need to remember the lessons of crisis planning...
 
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PowellBride

Moderator
Staff member
I'm sure this is a simplistic and unpopular opinion, but I think converting allocations from volume to percentage of actual inflows is the only answer. No one is going to willingly cede anything. Prosper in good years and suffer in poor ones, each state and municipality is going to have to deal with it individually. There just is no broad sweeping answer to the problem, each user is unique, and has different options available to them.
That sounds like common sense to me
 

drewsxmi

Escalante-Class Member
To be honest, and this is probably an unpopular opinion..... but I'm almost to the point of hoping the lakes continue to drop to critical levels. Why? because that is what will be needed for action to happen and the terms of the agreement changed and updated to reflect the actual situation we are dealing with now. It feels as if the plan is just wait and see and that kind of planning drives me nuts sometimes.

This is all said from outside looking in and not knowing everything that goes on behind the scenes. Sitting on my hands can be difficult if i see a problem to be fixed...
For better or for worse, I tend to see the current state of the water woes in the Southwest like the Cuyahoga River catching fire. There needs to be some major event for the general population to be convinced that there is a serious problem.
 

gianni

Member
That sounds like common sense to me
to drewsxmi : Yep. And the current undeniable state is an epic drought with a lot of well-intentioned people "smokin hopium" that mother nature will intervene and make it subside.. ... I hope so too but.....hope is not a plan. And the vitriolic blame game is irrelevant in the face of a drought. To PowellBride : Unfortunately common sense ain't that common. I want to be optimistic, LP has been my go-to world class spot outa Flag for 40 years. Maybe this is a transitional point that we need to adjust our expectations and move on to a different management plan for how we adjust and enjoy this incredible resource ?? We can always adjust to more precipitation. No problemo. The LP stakeholder list is changing. The world is changing, and we need to change with it. It's probably not gonna be "business as usual" Put on your thinking caps. I hope you are not offended by this comment. Just trying to be constructive about a place I adore.
 

Cookie

Well-Known Member
We need to stop looking at this as upper basin vs lower basin, it is one giant basin and we need to work together. I would also argue we should stop looking at it at the sate level as well. This us vs them attitude never wins, we must share in the burden to fix the problem. Sorry, just my two cents.
 

Ed_on_WD

Well-Known Member
do those screens go down to 3490? and who cleans the trash/driftwood off them? If they are steel, how could they have lasted almost 60 years???

:unsure:
Wondering about mussel buildup. Has the velocity of the water flow kept the nasty little critters from attaching to the debris screens and everything else past them? Or, are they there and we just can't see them in this pic?
 

Ed_on_WD

Well-Known Member
So, is there no hope for biological control? Is there perhaps a goby that loves to snack on the palps (I hope I've got the right term) that filter the water for the food the mussels live on? If some little fish that eats mussels were to establish itself, wouldn't they in turn become forage for bass and walleye?
 
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